The World’s Cruelest Roller Coaster Ride

Monday, October 8, 2018

The World’s Cruelest Roller Coaster Ride

The daily high temperatures on the Plains have yet to dip below 90 degrees, and Auburn’s football season is already a forgone conclusion. The only question left is whether it will have more than four losses by year’s end. Any hope of heading to Amen Corner with a fighting chance was obliterated by an average Mississippi State football team.

We all saw it coming but didn’t want to accept it. Today, reality has set in for this Auburn team. It’s an especially hard pill to swallow when your two biggest rivals sit at the very top of the college football world.

Someone recently said that being an Auburn fan was like riding the world’s cruelest roller coaster. Just when you think you’ve arrived, the bottom falls out. So here we go again. What seemed like manageable games against Tennessee, Ole Miss and Texas A&M two weeks ago now look improbable. Let’s face it: You don’t fix offenses like this one in a week or six.

Most telling Saturday night was the fight in both teams. Despite coming off two straight conference losses, Mississippi State was visibly hungry from the start and wanted to win. Auburn, with everything to play for ahead of it, looked unsure and lost. Plain and simple, Gus Malzahn didn’t have this team ready. And that goes for both sides of the ball.

When you are the fifth-highest-paid coach in the game and facing a team that’s reeling itself, you don’t lay an egg and get a pass. Buyer’s remorse doesn’t start to describe the feeling of Auburn fans today.

Gus Malzahn is not going anywhere—not this year or next. Boosters caught up in the emotion of season ending wins over Georgia and Alabama ensure the Malzahn Experience continues for years to come. That doesn’t mean it will be pleasant for him and his coaching staff.

As is tradition now, drastic coaching changes on the offensive side of the ball will be the talk as we head toward the holiday season. While Alabama and Georgia talk playoffs, the Auburn faithful get to discuss offensive strategy and who will be its next victim—I mean offensive coordinator.

It’s enough to make you change television channels and devote your fall to Dancing with the Stars.  

Things are only going to get harder for this staff in the coming years. Auburn’s two rivals are only the start. Texas A&M is quickly getting its act together. Florida comes on the schedule next year, and don’t discount Mississippi State and Joe Moorhead. It takes more than landing top-10 recruiting classes. It requires coaching.

Auburn has made its bed and now has to lie in it. Another season is over way too soon. Is it too early to start talking about who’s going to play quarterback next year?

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